Going, Going, Gone: A Guide to Online Auction Resources

by Scott Bass for Digital Living Today

One of the biggest Web crazes of the last couple of years has been person-to-person auctions. More people than ever are flocking to eBay, Amazon, and dozens of other auction sites and are turning that junk in their attics into cold hard cash (or exchanging it for new junk). Whether you’ve caught auction fever as a seller, bidder, or both, you may be relieved to know that there are a number of cool resources online that can aid you in your ongoing auction adventures.

Manage

New to the auction game and feeling a bit overwhelmed? Auction Watch (www.auctionwatch.com) can help make things easier with their “Universal Registration” which, while hardly being universal, does sign you up for a number of the main auction sites at once, including Yahoo, Amazon, and eBay. Once registered, you’ll want to check out their free auction manager which tracks all of your auction activity and will even help facilitate bulk listing when you’re ready to really doing some selling.

Strategize

The folks over at Bidder’s Edge (www.biddersedge.com/powertools.jsp) have a free set of power tools that auction addicts are sure to love. Highlights include the “Personal Shopper” which checks auction sites daily for items you specify (thus saving you untold hours scouring the Web looking for that Monkees lunchbox you had as a kid), and “Ping Me,” a service that will call, page, fax, or email you when an auction you’re watching is just about to close so you can sneak in that last-minute “snipe” bid.

Beautify

If you’re jealous of some of the fancy auction listings you see, but you don’t know HTML yourself, don’t worry. Honesty.com (www.honesty.com), which started out in the free counter game, and now offers free image hosting and pricing assistance, also offers “One-Step Listing” which makes creating snazzy auction listings a breeze.

Secure

E-payment sites like PayPal (www.paypal.com) and BillPoint (www.billpoint.com) are making online auctions safer and faster than ever before, but the maximum transaction amount they will handle is $500. If you’ve got a major deal going down and are looking for a little extra protection, check out I-Escrow (www.iescrow.com) which handles items up to $50,000 and provides procedures (for a small fee) that make sure both buyer and seller are happy with the transaction.

Ship!

So bidder and seller have a common way of figuring out exactly how much postage costs will be on a completed auction, it’s great to know that the good ol’ U.S. Post Office is here to help. And you don’t even have to wait in line!

Now you have all the tools you need to unload (or amass) all that stuff we call our prized possessions. Just be careful. Online auctioning is so addictive, before you know it, you may find yourself auctioning off all of those family heirlooms you inherited from mom. Wait, maybe that’s not such a bad idea.

***DLT Tip: For more online auction tips, see Gareth Branwyn’s article “Outfitting Your Pad Online.” Information on printing your own postage on the desktop can be found in Mark Frauenfelder’s “Playing Post Office” article.

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